American Way Is this a factor in why investors have fled Wall Street?

Schwab It's a part of it. But the bigger part is that the market has dropped substantially from 2000. In every down market, people escape. We are probably where we were in 1998 in terms of business activity. There was a blip up in '99 and 2000, then a blip down in 2001-2002. The bubble component has come and gone.

People who played extensively in Internet stocks and tech stocks got hurt. People who were diversified, yes, they got hurt a bit, but not to the degree that the press sometimes reports. If you had a diversified portfolio - with an asset allocation mix between stocks and fixed income - at this point you are probably at break-even compared with where you were in 1999. Some people lost all their money, but they went crazy [in their investing strategy]. That happened to maybe one to two percent of the investment population. Not to the other 98 percent.

American Way Look at the press coverage of day trading a few years ago. Sometimes it seemed to be epidemic, but only a handful of people really did it.

Schwab Around 50 million households have some interest in stocks, through 401(k) plans or whatever. Day traders represent less than one percent of the investor population. Probably more people go to Las Vegas to gamble.

American Way And you probably have a better chance of winning in Vegas?

Schwab [laughs] You have a much better chance of winning.